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Lewiston is a city of about 36,000 residents, located in southern Maine between Portland and Augusta along Interstate 95, in Androscoggin County. Community members have complained about burgeoning prostitution activity for decades, with cases of commercial sex and sex trafficking dating back to at least 1980. Among the problems associated with the local commercial sex market was the murder of a prostituted woman in 2011. A missing Lewiston woman who had advertised escort services on Backpage.com was killed on July 1, 2011 by the brother of her “madam” or pimp, according to a police affidavit. Sex trafficking has also been documented in the area, and several incidents of minor females being picked up during prostitution “sweeps” have also been reported. During 2018, police have collaborated with the Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office and local social service advocates to address prostitution, especially in inner-city areas. In March 2018, police arrested three women accused of engaging in prostitution in downtown Lewiston. In October 2018, a man was arrested and charged with aggravated sex trafficking.
In an effort to address problems associated with prostitution and the wide range of serious crimes that always accompany the sex trade, the Lewiston Police Department has attempted to combat demand, such as by conducting periodic street-level reverse stings since at least 1983. LPD officers have also conducted sting operations by placing decoy advertisements suggesting prostitution in local newspapers, and arranging to meet the individuals who responded to the listings. Such operations typically employ the use of an undercover female officer, who poses as a prostituting woman. When sex buyers attempt to solicit sex from her, they are quickly arrested. Police release arrestees’ names and other identifying information to the local media. In August, 1997, 13 male sex buyer were arrested when they responded to an advertisement for paid sex that police placed in the Lewiston Sunday Journal.
In September, 2018 more than 10 men were arrested in a series of street-level reverse stings targeting downtown Lewiston. The operations placed an undercover officer on streets in areas identified as problem spots for prostitution. Police arrested the suspects, and posted the men’s photos, names, ages, and addresses in news releases. The men were taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, where they were booked. In 2019, another reverse sting led to five arrests of male sex buyers, whose names were also included in news reports. The department says the operation was part of an ongoing effort to target sex related offenses and sex trafficking. The men were all charged with misdemeanor “engaging a prostitute.”
In February, 2020, Lewiston police announced they had charged eight people with “engaging a prostitute” during a covert sting operation targeting those soliciting sex for money using online escort sites. Lewiston police included the identities of the arrested sex buyers, and said that the arrests were part of a continued effort to reduce the number of female victims being forced or coerced into sex acts (i.e., sex trafficking).
- Lewiston Police Department
- Select Enforcement Team
- Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office
Street-Level Reverse Stings, Identity Disclosure:
- “Lewiston Police: ‘Johns,’ Prostitutes ‘on the Run’,” Lewiston Daily Sun, July 28 1983.
- “Lewiston Police Publicize Anti-Prostitution Law Patrol,” Lewiston Daily Sun, February 25 1986.
- “Lewiston Police Note April Actions,” Lewiston Daily Sun, May 5 1986.
- “Lewiston Police Arrest Seven,” Lewiston Journal, August 7 1986.
- “Police Log; Arrests,” Lewiston Daily Sun, September 18 1986.
- “11 Booked in Crackdown,” Lewiston Sun Journal, August 17 1990.
- “Team Nets Six Prostitution Arrests,” Lewiston Sun Journal, February 15 1991.
- “Lewiston Police Team Arrests Noted,” Lewiston Sun Journal, August 7 1991.
- “Eight Caught in Prostitution Sting,” Lewiston Sun Journal, July 17 1993.
- “Lewiston Police Report Crackdown on Prostitution,” Lewiston Sun Journal, October 9 1993.
- “Police Add Extra Sting to Prostitution Arrests,” Lewiston Sun Journal, May 14 1994.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 19; Lewiston Cops Use Newspaper Ad,” Lewiston Sun Journal, August 9 1997.
- “Lewiston Sting Results in Prostitution Charges,” Bangor Daily News, August 11 1997.
- “Men Charged in Prostitution Sting Scheduled for Court,” Lewiston Sun Journal, September 4 1997.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Priest,” Ellensburg Daily Record, September 6 1997.
- “Prostitution Charge against Probation Officer Is Dropped,” Lewiston Sun Journal, October 9 1997.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets 12 in Lewiston,” Lewiston Sun Journal, February 3 1998.
- “Police Nab 30 in Prostitution Sting,” Lewiston Sun Journal, April 25 1998.
- “Prostitution Sting Nets Suspects; Lewiston Police Said the Sting Is Part of an Ongoing Crackdown,” Lewiston Sun Journal, June 18 1999.
- “11 Nabbed in Prostitution Sting,” Lewiston Sun Journal, June 19 1999.
- “Ali Resigns Lewiston Post,” Lewiston Sun Journal, September 11 2004.
- “Arrest Figures Low for Johns, But Increasing, Maine Police Say,” Bangor Daily News, October 19 2012.
- http://www.sunjournal.com/prostitution-lewiston-police-nab-four-in-sting/ (2018)
- https://wgme.com/lewiston-police-nab-four-men-in-prostitution-sting (2018)
- http://www.sunjournal.com/lewiston-prostitution-sting-nets-two-more/ (2018)
- https://www.newscentermaine.com/six-men-arrested-in-prostitution-sting-in-lewiston (2018)
- https://wgme.com/prostitution-crackdown-nets-4-more-men-in-lewiston (2018)
- https://www.wmtw.com/seven-johns-arrested-in-lewiston-sex-trafficking-investigation (2018)
- http://www.sunjournal.com/lewiston-police-continue-crackdown-on-prostitution-seven-arrested/ (2018)
- https://wgan.com/lewiston-police-arrest-five-men-in-prostitution-bust/ (2019)
Web-Based Reverse Sting, Identity Disclosure:
- https://wgme.com/8-charged-with-engaging-a-prostitute-after-sting-operation-in-lewiston (2020)
- https://www.sunjournal.com/lewiston-prostitution-sting-nets-8-suspects (2020)
- https://wgan.com/lewiston-police-make-8-arrests-in-prostitution-sting (2020)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Juvenile Court: 18-Year-Old Girl Faces Charge of Prostitution,” Lewiston Daily Sun, May 13 1980.
- “Lewiston Police Make More Prostitution Arrests,” Lewiston Daily Sun, May 4 1983.
- “Woman Sentenced on Prostitution Charges,” Lewiston Daily Sun, October 24 1986.
- “Two Arrested on Prostitution Charge,” Lewiston Sun Journal, October 30 1992.
- http://www.sunjournal.com/lewiston-man-charged-with-sex-trafficking/ (2018)
- https://www.wmtw.com/lewiston-maine-man-accused-of-sex-trafficking (2018)
- https://humantraffickinghotline.org/en/statistics/maine (2021)
- https://wgme.com/lewiston-man-convicted-sex-trafficking-androscoggin-county-superior-court (2023)
- https://www.sunjournal.com/lewiston-man-convicted-attempted-assault-drug-sex-trafficking/ (2023)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- “Moral Conditions in Lewiston,” Lewiston Evening Journal, September 3 1915.
- “Denies Asking Wife to Become Prostitute,” Lewiston Evening Journal, November 4 1940.
- “Woman Arrested in Lewiston,” Lewiston Evening Journal, August 9 1973.
- “Prostitution Probe Nets One Arrest in Lewiston,” Lewiston Daily Sun, August 19 1977.
- “Police Arrest Third Woman in Month on Prostitution Charge,” Lewiston Daily Sun, September 2 1977.
- “Prostitution Trial Continues,” Lewiston Journal, September 19 1984.
- “Woman Found Guilty of Prostitution,” Lewiston Journal, September 22 1984.
- “Drug, Prostitution Violations Reported by Lewiston Police,” Lewiston Daily Sun, July 8 1986.
- “Committee to Consider Tougher Prostitution Laws,” Lewiston Daily Sun, April 27 1989.
- “Four Are Charged with Prostitution,” Lewiston Sun Journal, December 1 1989.
- “Three Charged with Prostitution,” Lewiston Sun Journal, February 20 1992.
- “Lewiston Considers Tougher Stance on Massage Parlors,” Lewiston Sun Journal, July 20 1996.
- “Two Charged in Lewiston Prostitution Sting,” Lewiston Sun Journal, October 30 1999.
- http://www.newscentermaine.com/is-the-lewiston-police-department-shaming-sex-trade-victims (March 2018)
- http://www.newscentermaine.com/three-women-from-lewiston-charged-with-prostitution (2018)
- http://www.sunjournal.com/lewiston-prostitutes-arrested/ (2018)
- https://www.sunjournal.com/district-attorney-in-lewiston-pushes-to-decriminalize-prostitution/ (2021)
- https://92moose.fm/lizzy-was-propositioned-on-the-streets-of-lewiston/ (2022)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area: